Clinical management among individuals with variant of uncertain significance in hereditary cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Sukh Makhnoon, Erica M. Bednar, Kate J. Krause, Susan K. Peterson, Maria A. Lopez-Olivo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Improper medical use of variant of uncertain significance (VUS) remains a concern in hereditary cancer genetic testing. The goal of this study was to assess the association between pathogenic and likely pathogenic (P/LP), VUS, and benign and likely benign (B/LB) genetic test results and cancer-related surgical and screening management. Systematic searches of Medline, Embase, EBSCO CINAHL Plus, and PsycINFO were conducted from 1946 to August 26, 2020. Eligible studies included individuals with cancer genetic test result and surgical or screening management outcomes. We reviewed 885 abstracts and 22 studies that reported relevant surgical and screening outcomes were included. Meta-analysis revealed significantly higher surgical rates among individuals with P/LP than among those with VUS for therapeutic mastectomy with contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (OR = 7.35, 95% CI, 4.14–13.64), prophylactic mastectomy (OR = 3.05, 95% CI, 1.5–6.19), and oophorectomy (OR = 6.46, 95% CI, 3.64–11.44). There were no significant differences in therapeutic mastectomy, or breast conservation or lumpectomy rates between individuals with P/LP and VUS, or in any outcomes between patients with VUS and B/LB. Studies evaluating screening outcomes were limited, and results were conflicting. Comprehensive analysis do not indicate that a significant number of individuals with VUS results undergo inappropriate clinical management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-131
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • benign variant
  • cancer
  • genetic test result
  • meta-analysis
  • pathogenic variant
  • screening
  • surgery
  • systematic review
  • variant of uncertain significance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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